14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 8 March 2021 — As soon as the sun came up I got into my usual routine: making coffee, checking the news and starting my work as an independent journalist in a country that does not tolerate freedom of the press.
Sometimes there are days of long hours glued to the keyboard, other days are hours in the field, in “the heat of it” as a colleague says. Today was one of those days to review pending notes and organize the agenda for the week. But in Cuba there is a routine that nobody stops: going out to buy daily bread. Well, hardly anyone.
At the stroke of nine in the morning I grabbed my wallet, ration book, a bag, and headed out to the bakery. When I went down, a State Security officer was again at the entrance of the building to prevent me from going out into the street. He was the same one as on other occasions but, this time, he was accompanied by two women in the uniform of the Ministry of the Interior, tight shirts and olive green miniskirts.
“Luzbely, you can’t go out today,” the man told me, blocking my way when he saw me ready to cross the door. This time I didn’t answer him or ask him anything, I turned around and waited for the elevator.
“Oh, by the way, congratulations,” said the officer. Since he was wearing the mask, I didn’t detect if he said it sarcastically, but judging by the tone of his voice, he was more nervous than anything else.
In Cuba it is routine on a day like today to hear a congratulation for Women’s Day from every man who passes you by, even if he does not know you.
State Security officials have been harassing me for years, even long before 2014, when I decided to be part of the 14ymedio team. However, the open and direct fire against me began when I began to sign aticles, interviews and reports that bring to light the reality that power wants to hide.
In addition to locking them in their homes whenever they want, the political police use a repressive arsenal against women who work in independent media: arbitrary arrests, bans on leaving the country, threats to family and friends, and jail. They have threatened me about my daughters through the State Security Office for minors, using collaborating neighbors who have given false testimonies. They have harassed people close to me to try to scare them away.
All this happens before the eyes of my daughters, who today are already 11 and 13, and I find it impossible to hide what is happening to me. It hurts me tremendously that creatures who don’t understand half the adult world are subjected to states of siege under threat, so I try to explain as best I can. “Your mother writes about things that bother the government a lot and that’s why these things happen,” I tell them.
Also on the horizon is the violence of an act of repudiation like the one against Anyell Valdés recently; State Security has shown that it has no limits when it comes to exercising violence against women and their children.
We are running out of time and our children grow up and soon they will have to experience the repression in the first person. I experienced it as a daughter, now as a mother and a journalist, but I do not want, under any circumstances, for my daughters to also have to suffer this same thing in their own flesh.
That my daughters have found the strength to face it does not lessen the pain. They are the fuel to continue doing what I do, my motivation to fight for the better country that we all deserve.
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